Mak­ing a state­ment — with­out talk­ing

Kentville crafter finds voice with vi­brant, unique hats

The News (New Glasgow) - - COMMUNITY - BY SARA ERICSSON

Wear­ing an oc­to­pus on her head is not only about keep­ing warm, it’s about mak­ing a state­ment.

All it takes is whimsy and yarn for Kentville crafter Stella Mid­dle­ton to bring her cro­cheted hats to life. She’s made dozens of hats, but it’s her first hat that re­mains her most-loved — a brown and bright or­ange oc­to­pus that sits proudly on her head when she steps out­side in the win­ter.

Cro­chet­ing has be­come a hobby Mid­dle­ton says has given her a voice af­ter years of feel­ing voice­less as a re­sult of men­tal health is­sues.

“I felt in­vis­i­ble, like I didn’t ex­ist, that no mat­ter how loud I screamed no one heard or saw me. The oc­to­pus hat tells peo­ple I ex­ist with­out speak­ing,” she says.

Mid­dle­ton started cro­chet­ing four years ago, af­ter want­ing to give home­made items to her grand­chil­dren at Christ­mas. She taught her­self to make hats and scarves with on­line tu­to­ri­als and picked it up quickly, so fast she soon tired of plain de­signs and found her­self want­ing an­other chal­lenge.

She then found a pat­tern for an oc­to­pus hat, and says she was hooked in­stantly.

“I’ve al­ways been a lit­tle strange, and I love the out-of-the-or­di­nary, so as soon as I saw the oc­to­pus, I was sold,” says Mid­dle­ton. Com­bin­ing cre­ativ­ity with colour, Mid­dle­ton has cro­cheted de­signs in­clud­ing uni­corns, whales, croc­o­diles and elves. She sells her hats to cus­tomers and also do­nates

many to char­ity, and some­times sees peo­ple walk­ing out­side in Kentville wear­ing one of her cre­ations.

Most hats be­gin as five sep­a­rate pieces which are then stitched to­gether, but her oc­to­pus re­quired all eight ten­ta­cles to be cro­cheted sep­a­rately, along with each in­di­vid­ual sucker, its eyes and its man­tle — all of which took six hours.

“I iso­late, so when I do that, I have my cro­chet­ing and my paint­ing and that’s what helps me — it’s how I can still talk, with­out hav­ing to be around peo­ple,” says Mid­dle­ton. “It’s got to be dif­fer­ent; I like be­ing dif­fer­ent.”

Mid­dle­ton says craft­ing — she also paints at art-ther­apy classes — is the only out­let she’s found to help her fo­cus and de-stress. And be­yond that, she feels her hats have given her a sense of con­fi­dence.

“At first I was a lit­tle bit ner­vous — be­cause you know, I’m an older woman wear­ing an oc­to­pus on my head — but then I thought, you know, I just don’t care, and I just went for it,” she says. “It’s very much about speak­ing out.”

To reach Mid­dle­ton about her hats, email [email protected]­mail. com.

SARA ERICSSON/SALTWIRE NET­WORK

All it takes is some yarn and a vi­sion for Kentville crafter Stella Mid­dle­ton to bring her cro­cheted hats to life. She says the hobby has also helped her men­tal health.

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